Glossary of Terms

A - D ; E - I ; J - R ; S - Z

Account Code

An account code is a required FOAPAL element identifying the category of expense or revenue activity, such as Graduate Stipends, Supplies, Equipment, etc.

Accountable Plan

An accountable plan is one which pays expenses that would otherwise be deductible by the employee, requires the employee to substantiate the expense, and does not permit the employee to keep reimbursements which exceed expenses.

Activity Code

An activity code is an optional FOAPAL element designed for short duration projects, special events, and recurring campus events involving one or multiple departments.


An advance is a payment of cash before an actual expenditure is incurred – e.g., cash given to a traveler before a trip is taken.  When an advance is provided, this money is essentially committed to a pending expenditure.

Allocating Costs

Allocating costs means the process of assigning a cost or a group of costs, to one or more cost objectives, in reasonable and realistic proportion to the benefit provided or other equitable relationship.

Allowable Costs

An allowable cost is a cost that is allocable, and in conformance with any limitations or exclusions set forth in the federal cost principles, sponsor requirements or internal policies applicable to the organization incurring the cost. The cost must also be consistent with the internal regulations, policies and procedures that apply uniformly to both federally funded and other activities of the University, accorded consistent treatment, and determined to be in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.

Authorized Signature

An authorized signature is required for approval of transactions impacting a University account. The fund financial manager has implied primary authorization, but may designate signing authority to another individual or individuals through a Signatory Authorization Form . However, authority to approve employee reimbursements may not be designated to a peer or a subordinate. For grant funds, completed forms must be on file with Research & Sponsored Programs Accounting; for unrestricted funds, forms must be filed with Payment Services.

Barcode Tag (under Plant Fund Policies)

A tag applied to a movable asset that carries a control number for identification purposes.

Budget Category

Budget categories are groupings of similar expenditures into distinct categories for the purposes of summary reporting.

Budget Period

A budget period constitutes the interval of time into which a project period is divided for budgetary and funding purposes.

Budget Revision

A budget revision is the procedure for reallocation of budgeted funds among different expense categories. Budget revisions for grants and contracts must be coordinated with Notre Dame Research.

Close Out

The close out of an award/grant/agreement means the process by which a Federal awarding agency or other sponsor determines that all applicable administrative actions and required work on the award has been completed by the recipient


Commitments are anticipated future expenditures which can be formally encumbered on funds through several methods such as processing a purchase requisition or initiating a personnel action form.

Constructed Equipment

University constructed equipment is defined as combining modular components and/or materials into one functional unit. Finished equipment will have a unit cost of $5,000 or more, a useful life of more than one year, and the capacity to function without the assistance of another item ( not an accessory or component). These assets are constructed by a department for use on a contract or grant that will remain in the possession of the University, with title vesting either to the University or to a federal agency upon completion of the contract or grant.

Cost Share or Match

Cost sharing is the portion of a sponsored agreement project cost, contributed by the University and/or other non-federal sources, not reimbursed by the sponsor.  Cost sharing can be categorized either as mandatory or voluntary committed.

Departmental Research

Departmental research means research, development and scholarly activities that are not organized research and, consequently, are not separately budgeted and accounted for.

Direct Costs

Direct Costs are those costs that can be identified specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, or any other institutional activity, or that can be directly assigned to such activities with a high degree of accuracy.


Disencumber is the release of funds previously set aside for a specific purpose via a purchase order or personnel form. Funds are disencumbered when the goods have been received and final payment has been made or when personnel have been paid.

Document Code

The document code is the accounting reference containing alpha and numeric characters which defines the type and source of a transaction.  Referencing the document code assists in locating additional transaction detail or the source of the entry.

Document Reference Number

The document reference number provides additional transaction information to assist with identifying details or sources associated with ledger entries.

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Effort Reporting

An Effort Report (formerly referred to as Personnel Activity Report or “PAR”) is the University's form used to certify compensation charged to an award is reflective of the effort expended on the award.  Any personnel charges made to an award must be certified.  Effort certification is a requirement of OMB Circular A-21


An encumbrance is the setting aside of funds for a specific purchase. The encumbrance is authorized through completion of a purchase order or a personnel action form.

Ending Fund Balance in GLez

The ending fund balance in GLez is the available balance for spending as of the prior day.  It does not include any outstanding commitments or encumbrances.

Expanded Authority

Expanded authority transfers certain authorities to the University allowing us to authorize specific actions, such as budget revisions or award extensions.

Expiration Date

The final date by which expenditures must be incurred or encumbered on a project or sponsored award.


An endowment is a permanent fund whose earnings are to be used in accordance with the donor's specified wishes.


Expenditures are charges made to a fund to pay for goods or services that are used in completing the requirements of the award.

Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Costs

F&A costs are real costs incurred by the University in support of sponsored activities but cannot be directly identified with a specific grant or contract. The costs result from shared services such as libraries, physical plant operation and maintenance, utility costs, general, departmental, unit/school and sponsored projects’ administrative expenses, and depreciation for buildings and equipment. Indirect cost and fringe benefit rates for all Federal grants and contracts are periodically reviewed and negotiated with our cognizant Federal agency, the Department of Health & Human Services.


A fellowship is an amount paid for the benefit of an individual to aid in the pursuit of study or research.

Fixed Asset

A fixed asset is equipment or furnishings with a useful life greater than one year, and an original unit cost of $5,000 or more.

Fixed Price Contract

A fixed price contract provides for a firm price that is not subject to any adjustment on the basis of the prime contractor’s actual cost experience in performing the contract. 


The FOAPAL is an acronym for the chart of accounts structure used by the Banner finance system.  FOAPAL stands for the Fund-Organization-Account-Program-Activity-Location codes.

Form I-9

Federal law requires employers to verify the identity and employment authorization of all newly hired (or rehired) employees by ensuring each employee's completion of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, within three business days of the start date of employment (for faculty, within three business days of the contract start date).

Fringe Benefit

A fringe benefit is an additional cost the University incurs on behalf of its employees to enhance their well-being.  Depending on the nature of the item, fringe benefits may be nontaxable or taxable. If taxable, the benefit is added to the employees' calendar-year-end tax statement (1099, 1042S, W2).  Fringe benefits include but are not limited to retirement, employee health, dental and the University’s FICA contribution.

Fringe Benefit Rates

Fringe benefit rates are an accounting method to allocate benefit costs to units or awards in proportion to direct salary costs incurred by those entities.  All University employees, including faculty, staff, or students, incur certain fringe benefits that accompany their University relationship. The fringe benefits pool establishes different employee groups based on similar fringe benefits they are entitled to. The fringe benefits costs of each group are pooled to determine the fringe benefits rates used in budgeting and accounting.  The most current fringe rates can be found here.

Fund Code

The fund code is a required FOPAL element.  A fund is the source where the resources for a project are maintained.  The University’s financial statements include the following fund groups:  Unrestricted Funds, Restricted Funds, Student Loan Funds, Endowment Funds, Plant funds, Agency Funds.

GLez (General Ledger Made Easy)

GLez is a web interface to the University's financial accounts. It provides views of financial data, at both summary and detailed levels.  It is updated each night with transactions from the Banner finance system.


A grant is a financial assistance mechanism providing money to an eligible entity to carry out an approved project or activity.  See RSPA’s policy on Grant vs Gift for additional detail.

Human Subject

A human subject is a living individual for whom an investigator conducting research obtains 1) data through intervention or interaction with the individual, or 2) identifiable private information used in accomplishing the research objective.

Independent Contractor

An independent contractor is an individual who is to receive payment for special services and, by the nature of their relationship, is not governed by the employer/employee rules.

Indirect Cost (see Facilities & Administrative Costs)

In Kind Contribution

An in-kind contribution is a non-cash input directly associated with a project which can be given a cash value.  Examples are on-campus housing or tuition.

Instruction (as an institution function)

The instruction classification includes expenses for all activities that are part of an institution’s instructional programs. Expenses that fall into this category include: credit and noncredit courses; academic, vocational, and technical instruction; remedial and tutorial instruction; and regular, special, and extension sessions.

Intellectual Property

Intellectual property is a product of the intellect that has commercial value, including copyrighted property such as literary or artistic works, and ideational property, such as patents, appellations of origin, business methods and industrial processes.

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Journal Entry

A journal entry is an accounting transaction used to correct or reallocate receipts and expenditures. To initiate a transaction on a grant fund, complete a journal entry form (Manual Journal Voucher Form)  and submit the approved document to Research & Sponsored Programs Accounting.

Location Code

A location code is an optional FOAPAL element primarily used with the fixed asset module to designate physical places or sites, such as building or room number.  Location codes are a required element for capital purchases.

Mandatory Cost Share

Mandatory cost share is the required University contribution specified by the sponsor as a condition of obtaining the award.  It is set forth in project announcements or guidelines issued by the sponsor.

No Cost Extension

A no cost extension is the lengthening of a sponsored project's period, at no additional cost to the sponsor. An extension may be requested through Notre Dame Research when the project work will not be completed within the originally approved time frame.

NRA (Non-resident Alien)

A non-resident alien is a person not considered as a permanent resident of the United States by reason of birth or by possession of a permanent residency card.

Organization Code

An organization code is a FOAPAL element that identifies the school/college/division/ department/center/institute to which the fund or activity is associated with in the University’s organizational structure. 

Organized Research

Organized research is research and development activities of an institution that are separately budgeted and accounted for.  It includes both internal and externally sponsored research projects.  Organized research, whether externally funded or not, would have the following characteristics:  a competitive proposal process, required financial reporting, and stated deliverables. 

Other Institutional Activities

Other institutional activities reflect all activities of an institution except instruction, departmental research, organized research, and other sponsored activities.

Other Sponsored Activities

Other sponsored activities reflect programs and projects financed by federal and non-federal agencies and organizations which involve the performance of work other than instruction and organized research.

Principal Investigator

The Principal Investigator is the individual who assumes responsibility for the intellectual quality of a sponsored project, the integrity of expenses charged to its funds, and the accuracy of reports submitted regarding the progress of the work performed.


A ProCard is a University-sponsored credit card issued to authorized employees for purchases of small dollar items.

Program Code

A program code is a FOAPAL element identifying the purpose of the related financial transactions within the context of the University’s major activities, such as instruction, research, public service, etc.


Property, unless otherwise stated, is real property, equipment, intangible property and debt instruments.

Real Property

Real property is land, including land improvements, structures and accessories.


Research means a systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to broaden knowledge.

Research and Development

Research and development means all research activities, both basic and applied, and all development activities that are supported at universities, colleges, and other non-profit institutions.  “Research” is defined as a systematic study directed toward fuller scientific knowledge or understanding of the subject studies.  “Development” is the systematic use of knowledge and understanding gained from research directed toward the production of useful materials, devices, systems, or methods, including design and development of prototypes and processes.  The term research also includes activities involving the training of individuals in research techniques where such activities utilize the same facilities as other research and development activities and where such activities are not included in the instruction function.

Research Misconduct

Research misconduct is fabricating, falsifying or plagiarizing in proposing, performing or reporting research, or in reporting research results.  Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting them.  Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment or processes or changing or omitting data or results such that research is not accurately represented in the research record.  Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results or words without giving appropriate credit.  The term does not include honest error or honest differences of opinion.

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SAF (Student Appointment Form)

A SAF is required for any student employee of the University. The form detail wage information and the hours/term of employment, and identifies the hiring unit or units.


A scholarship is generally an amount paid for the benefit of a student at an educational institution to aid in the pursuit of studies. 

Sponsored Instruction and Training

Sponsored instruction and training means specific instructional or training activity established by grant, contract or cooperative agreement.

Sponsored Research

Sponsored research means all research and development activities that are sponsored by federal -or non-federal agencies and organizations independent to the University.


A stipend is a fixed and regular payment, such as a salary for services rendered or an allowance.


A subaward is an award of financial assistance in the form of an allocation of money made under an award by a recipient to an eligible subrecipient or by a subrecipient to a lower tier subrecipient.


A subrecipient is the legal entity to which a subaward is made and which is accountable to the recipient for the use of the funds provided. 

Voluntary Committed Cost Share

Voluntary committed cost share represent resources offered by the University (documented and quantified in the proposal) when it is not a specific sponsor requirement.  It becomes a binding commitment which the University must provide as part of the performance of the sponsored agreement.  Voluntary committed cost sharing commitments have the same post award audit and tracking requirements as mandatory cost sharing requirements. 

Voluntary Uncommitted Cost Share

Voluntary uncommitted cost sharing is not formally pledged in the proposal and approved budget, but subsequently made available to the project.

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